Directors Statement

Cheese in Supermarket
Before I went to live in London in 2001 I had always thought of it as a very expensive city, and in many respects it is. However after nearly 4 years of living in Europe, I returned to New Zealand and was horrified to find out just how much a trip to the grocery store for a few basic items would now cost me.

Standing in front of the butter in the supermarket, I did a quick currency conversion and was outraged to discover that NZ butter is cheaper in Europe than you can by it in its country of origin. NZ Lamb, something I enjoyed eating often in London was now on the “not likely to afford even at Christmas’ list. We produce this food in our own country yet even after it has travelled half way around the world, a consumer in London can benefit from our top quality food for a fraction of the price we New Zealanders can. How could this be!

The more I looked into the economics of this issue the more frustrated I became. I discovered that food retailers were dumping tonnes of good quality food because New Zealanders couldn’t afford to pay the inflated prices they were being charged. Growers are forced to leave food in the fields to rot because they cannot earn enough from the sale to afford to pay workers to gather it. Yet the supermarkets are putting exorbitant mark ups on these very same goods (sometimes in excess of 1000%) inflating the prices far beyond what the average shopper can pay. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.

Cheese in the Dumpster
As I began to research this topic even further I came across an underground organisation of people who are doing something to combat this needless waste. They are Dumpster Divers. People who, under the cover of darkness retrieve food they believe is still edible from the supermarkets dumpsters, extracting it before it’s taken away to become landfill. Many of these dumpster divers live by the philosophy that food is a necessity is should not be a commodity. As I came to understand what these divers do and just how big the issue is of food waste in New Zealand ($750 million/annum) I just knew I had to tell this story. To challenge not only the retailers but our own perceptions of what is and isn’t edible.

The aim of “From Dumpster to Dinner Plate” is for consumers to question not only the food retailers but also their own perceptions around food. It is my hope that if enough people become informed and vocal about this issue then food waste policies in New Zealand will be changed. It is my belief that as long as there are people struggling to feed themselves in this world (and this country) no good edible food should ever end up in our landfills.